Avalon Hill Complexity Ratings
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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This is a list of the complexity ratings given by Avalon Hill to its own games. Interesting to see in retrospect what was considered 'easy' and what was considered 'challenging' from the game company itself. I primarily restrict entries to game I've had some experience with: feel free to add/comment on others.

Just for fun, I thought I'd try to rate some more 'modern' games on the AH scale. How do you think I did? Interesting to see how tastes and perceptions have changed over time...
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1. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:209] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Rating 10

What else but the monster of all WW2 squad level games? I always hear about how modular the rules are and so on, but the sheer immensity of it all surely deserves this rating.

Some others:
Struggle of Nations - I bought this from KayBee toys in Des Moines back in 1985 for $1.99, along with Rise and Decline of the Third Reich- those were the days. I never managed to get this played, as it was overwhelming to us, especially since I didn't know Napoleonic tactics from a hole in the wall. It did get traded for Titan, so not too bad.

Freedom in the Galaxy - the no-holes-barred scenario carries the highest rating. Have not yet played the game, but it is a high priority.

Advanced Third Reich - This I did manage to play, as a 14-year old kid I played this with my younger brother, at least until the cat decided to take a dance on the board. Revisited again in grad school where I had my butt handed to me by an expert, making me realize what a lightweight I really am when it comes to WW2 games.
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2. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:929]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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9

Sure, its quite tough to learn: spent a whole week digesting the rules, 2 hours setting up, and an hour talking it over with a friend. then we managed to make a mistake on the very first move. But it is THE best board fantasy adventure out there.

Others

Empires in Arms - you KNOW ASL is deep when this ranks below it.
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3. Board Game: The Longest Day [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:2633]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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8

The Longest Day was, I believe, the most expensive game in their catalog ($85 list, as I recall) and one of the heaviest (in weight). Massive board covered 25 sq. ft., all mounted. The game, from some accounts, takes longer the the battle.

Others

Siege of Jerusalem - I tell you, this has gone on and off my want list more than any other game. probably the best siege game out there (according to experts), but the scale and the theme precludes me from finding opponents. Maybe someday.
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4. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:338]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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7

An awful lot going on in this game. Lots of complaints about the rule book, but I thought it was a good one, and the sequence of play cards got you going right away. Masterful game.

Others

Kingmaker - this surprised me that it rated as high as it did. Seemed relatively straightforward, especially compared to some games below on this list. Still, there was quite a bit of diplomacy, fighting, and special rules, so I guess I can understand where the rating came from.

Pelopponesian War - highest rating on a solo game, I believe, although it can be played by 2 or more. Only done a brief test game of this one so far.
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5. Board Game: Wooden Ships & Iron Men [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1047]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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6

Great title. The rules not so bad, but once you add in some advanced options and about a dozen ships, you are in for quite a ride.

Others

Wizards - a really oddball game in the AH catalog - check out my review for a taste of what this is. Not another simple wizeard-duel game. The high difficulty score may be more a reflection of its unusual nature than rules complexity.
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6. Board Game: Gunslinger [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1528]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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5

Beware, Euro-gamers. When Gunslinger rates 'medium' on the complexity scale, you might have bitten off more than you care to chew. Great game scaling down a gunfight in 0.4 second turns. So dwarfs the recent Cowboys: Way of the Gun.

Others:

Ambush - a really compelling solo game of squad level combat in France in WW2. I was shocked it pulled me in as it did.

Raid on St Nazaire - another nice solo game, but this one has LOTS of dice rolls, especially during the naval approach. Don't have a copy myself, but the map almost makes it worth getting.

Blackbeard - the original, and in my mind, the better version, although the GMT game was fun, too. The best 'realistic' pirate sim' is not to everyone's taste, but if you are in the right mood or want a solo game, this hits the spot.
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7. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:794]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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4

Not a complex game, just a damn fun one. Player elimination, potential for loooong game play time, rolling 18 dice at one go... pure bliss.

Others

Up Front - this surprised me, as I thought it was supposed to be much more complex than this. Perhaps it is just the rulebook?

Tyranno Ex - Another European import, a simpler version of American Megafauna.

Merchant of Venus - a surprising game for me: did not expect to like it, but Hamblin did it again. Not a war game at all (although if the Rasters(?) are included, better arm your ships) but had a pretty good economic system. I need to find a copy.

Advanced Civilization - my preferred way to play Civ, it does add a few things and a btt on complexity, but still quite reasonable. Tresham is a genius.

New World - a simpler version of Conquistador, came in the AH big box series. I had a good time the one time I played.

Kremlin - a Swiss import, a really amusing game for us that lived through the Cold War era. Plays in under two hours, and plenty of backstabbing and use of bad Russian accents.

Pax Britannica - I don't know: pretty in-depth game may be slightly under-scored here. On the same level as Kremlin?

1830 - wow. Well, I guess the rules are pretty straightforward, but there is both a time and intellectual investment into this Tresham masterwork needed.

Successors - Not numerically rated on the boc, but a similar scale given to 1830. A Berg 4-player CDG, lots of chrome, lots of little rules, a very good game.

Age of Renaissance - again, no box score, but rates almost the same as Successors. At least as complex as Advanced Civ, but I would say more so. Even I have to admit the rulebook of this one a bit of a mess, and it took me several readings before I got everything worked out.

Geronimo - still need to play, but as it can be done solo, I have little excuse. Looks to be another chromey Berg game, the kind I like.

Gladiator - seems out of place with some of these other heavyweights. there are quite a few rulews, and quite some details, so perhaps it has earned its score.
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8. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:225] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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3

The barometer by which Civ games are measured. Easy rules but hours to complete. How much better can you get?

Others:

Diplomacy - How many different versions of this game are there? How many family shelves have this gathering dust in the den?

Circus Maximus - A really fun game of chariot racing in Ancient Rome, although the last lap often drags as the enfeebled remains of once-proud horses and chariots limp it to the finish line.

Britannia - The first in the 'rise and fall' series of this type, has held up well and has even been reprinted.

Hannibal - not rated on the box, but this is the rough fit. A step up from the first CDG but remains also excellent, and deserved a reprint.
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9. Board Game: History of the World [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:599]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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2

Rules not very difficult, but it does take a few hours to play out. Very nice mechanism in a 'mini-epic' game.

Others

Enemy in Sight - one of AH's 'family games'. A little different than Ticket to Ride?

We the People - the first CDG as we recognize them. I believe it still holds up.

Roadkill - Another card game, plays up to like 8 people in a 'Mad Max' style race. Not had luck at my table, but I do like the game.
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10. Board Game: Naval War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3536]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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1

I know nothing about this game, but it is one of the only one rated games I am aware of.
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11. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3760] [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:71]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Let's try to rate some recent games....

Twilight Imperium 3: not as much going on as Republic of Rome, maybe on the level of Blackbeard. I give a 5.

1960: Making of the President: definitely on the lighter CDG side, like We the People: I give 2.

Agricola: Probably rates similar to Civ, with a well-defined play order, some cards that affect play... I give a 3.

Age of Steam: Also pretty easy rules, some depth, but sure rates below 1830. I give a 3. Actually, most Wallace games would rate about a 3.

Puerto Rico - probably a 2, but not having played Naval War, it may be a 1.

Ticket To Ride: Kidding, right? Sub 1 score.

Tigris and Euphrates: I'd say a Britannia level in the rules, so say a 3.

Die Macher: King of Euro complexity. I can't see this competing with Age of Renaissance or Merchant of Venus, so I have to score it a 3.

Through the Ages - ooh, an interesting one. This could be in the 6-range, given all the little rules, fiddly bits and things going on.

Age of Empires 3 - Simple, level 2 game.

Hammer of the Scots - Probably comes in at a 4, as I think it is about Titan-like in its complexity.

Roads and Boats - 1830 level? Maybe. Kremlin level? Definitely. Let's give it a 4.

Descent - Heck, Circus Maximus has more going on than this one. Let's be generous and give it a 2.

So, in conclusion, I would say there has been a drastic change in the perception of game complexity. The most complex games of today, like Die Macher, Twilight Imperium 3 and the like, barely crack the lower levels of the scale used by a mid-80's game manufacturer. Even 'family fare' games like Enemy in Sight, Gangsters, or Roadkill were much more involved by comparison. Unfortunately, AH did not have similar ratings for other family games like Spices of the World or Point of Law... I wonder how these compare with the game of today? Anyway, interested in your feedback, and let me know if I'm a raving lunatic.
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